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Contesting colonial (hi)stories: (Post)colonial imaginings of South East Asia

Moschovi, Alexandra; Supartono, Alexander


Alexandra Moschovi


This paper seeks to explore the impact of digital technologies upon the material, conceptual and ideological premises of the colonial archive in the digital era. This analysis is pursued though a discussion of the findings of an international, multidisciplinary artist workshop in Yogyakarta, Indonesia that used the digital colonial archive to critically investigate the ways national, transnational and personal history and memory in the former colonies has been informed and shaped by the colonial past. We specifically focus on how their use of digital media contests and reconfigures the use, truth value and power of the colonial archive as an entity and institution. Case studies include: Thai photographer Dow Wasiksiri, who questions the archive’s mnemonic function by replacing early 20th century, handcrafted montage with digital manipulation; Malaysian artist Yee I-Lann, who adopts a speculative photomontage to represent onto the same picture plane different historical moments and colonial narratives; and Indonesian photographer Agan Harahap, who recomposes archival photographs into unlikely juxtapositions that he then disseminates through social media.
Recontextualised and repurposed online on different platforms, this work becomes part of the expanded post-colonial archive and proposes a reframing not only of the politics of colonial representation, but also of the validity and veracity of the photographic image as evidence and historical record. We further argue that the transition from the material colonial archive of the 20th century to the immaterial post-colonial archive of the 21st century also makes possible a shift in power relations allowing formerly colonised subjects to have unprecedented access to and control over the representation of their history.


Moschovi, A., & Supartono, A. (2016, September). Contesting colonial (hi)stories: (Post)colonial imaginings of South East Asia. Paper presented at Association of Southeast Asian Studies UK (ASEASUK) Conference 2016

Presentation Conference Type Conference Paper (unpublished)
Conference Name Association of Southeast Asian Studies UK (ASEASUK) Conference 2016
Conference Location SOAS, London
Start Date Sep 16, 2016
End Date Oct 18, 2016
Deposit Date Nov 24, 2016
Keywords colonial, postcolonial, archive, southeast asia, photography
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